A tale about basic human decency

I’m member of the Couchsurfing community … the implementation of a wonderful social idea, that people traveling abroad could meet local people for a talk, sightseeing and optionally get free  accommodation (“couch”) for the night instead of going to a hotel/hostal. In fact, for the unconference part of our upcoming conference, I’m using the couch of a local resident of Strasbourg!! :slight_smile:

My experience with the people in the community was and is great!!! I made a lot of acquaintances and friends from all the world (America, Europe, Asia and Africa). With them I shared countless stories and laughs. We learn from each other our cultures and traditions. We heared and felt about our problems, hopes and all those feelings that accompany us on our journey as human beings. My exchange with them was basically based on sharing and respect … a tale about basic human decency …

My experience with the way that the decisions are taken by the people at the “management” side of the community … it was another tale, but a tale where there was disrespect regards the value of our voices and opinions as a members of the community … and this disrespect for me is clearly a behavior in the line with the lack of basic human decency.  One day, without our consultation, in an arbitrary way, we were “sold” …  our community from being organized as a non-profit structure built with our sharing and money donations,  became a for-profit organization, a  B Corp I agree, but anyway a for-profit organization and nobody asked us if we want that … at this moment I was involved with other people about this fact (the results of this involvement is another long tale worth of discuss in another thread!), and some of the points that I was arguing with them were:

I do not disagree with people trying to make money to have a decent life. In our society we all agreed (implicitly or explicitly) that money is our medium of exchange, so we need money to live. So, if the “management” is needing the money to maintain the site and to maintain themselves (assuming that they are spending all their working time to the site), for sure they should seek the honest alternatives to get that money. But, from my point of view, to the thing that the management haven’t right is is to undertake the implementation of a solution in an arbitrary and nontransparent way. Because, although its true that they initially organized the site, the current success of the site isn’t of them, but belongs to the volunteer work of all of us (without pay, as opposed to management), and through this volunteer work (which accounts for most of the work that makes the site successful), we all implicitly become site’s shareholders. And as shareholders, we have the right to decide the fate of our community, i.e. be consulted when the management want to make a decision that affects our future

What has been happening these days in the community of Couchsurfing functions as a sort of replica of our wider environment, our society. We can see that bad things are constantly happening in our society, and what is worse, our society (we) passively accepts this things. When something bad happens, if we’re lucky and the bad thing get some coverage, then a small storm of protests is formed. But, as in the short term, this bad thing does not affect the status quo of most of society, this initial storm of discontent is not going to be more than a small shower with no real consequences. I guess that the initial problem that produce this behavior is a mix of our conformist education, our lack of vision in the medium and long term, and of course our own personal comfort. People in general moves when reaches an extreme situation, but while they are thinking that their situation will improve or at least remain the same, it is really difficult to motivate them to action, although in the medium and long term this very lack of action likely will lead to a worse situation. The other problem of course is our lack of structures to organize and coordinate the response of the society in a way that promotes an effective action, while at the same time prevents the concentration of power that inevitably lead to abuse, as well as the apathy and loss of valid voices tired of the crying and fighting for power.

What was happening at Couchsurfing was clearly reflected in the following article: “A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency”   … where it is stating basically the same thing … in the new economy that is arising (that could be named “cognitive capitalism”), the new business are being built with our social effort and values, with bits of our own lives the 24 hours a day … with our pictures, thinking, comments, tags, friends and so on … and we are not having voice about how all this value created by our effort is managed. Worst! we are not shapping how the incredible technology we have at hands (mostly arised from research paid with public money) is being used in the society … the crude economic interests guided by short-term financial results is shapping its use.

So, I’m fully agree with the mindset framed by “mine become ours” … but I want fair play … I want a politic and economic context that is also framed by “mine become ours” … not by “yours become mine”  as that sadly permeates the economic forces dominating our current context … for this reason I belong to Edgeryders and for this reason I’m inviting you to join, talk and act about these issues at the living together session  …

HOW to transform a culture to make room for individual voices?

Jorge, it is wonderful to discuss with you…

Dominating forces. Whoa! This word just JUMP in front of my eyes.

Is it a problem of mainting status quo, or a more a question of maintaining the domination game? People must think of me that I am a fierceful feminist. I am trying to explain, like you do, that we live in a society based on domination. It’s good to know that there men who also see these issues.

As an open government activist, I have been told that the ‘good’ open gov activists of high reputation do not talk about these issues. The references that were given to me were mostly males, except for one woman. What does this mean? That I’m a ‘bad’ open government activist??? Hey, I protest!

It does not make any sense to me to imagine implementing a new style of governance based on collaboration, if we don’t get rid of the dominating attitudes first. It will just never work, it won’t flow well. Success would probable not be at the rendez-vous. There are other models of leadership (power) that exist, based on different sets of values and different attitudes. In order to have these different attitudes, we must understand the nature of power, and realize that there is another way of obtaining power than by steeling away the energy of other people by domination or manipulation. Dominance is a way of getting energy from others, or money, or steeling their power. It is always an attempt to get from someone else, instead of being self-sufficient, or relying on inner strenght.

How come the ‘good’ open gov guys do not get this? It’s crystal clear to me. One explanation could be because they are males. Or because they tend to rationalize everything, and leave out the possibility that there exists an intuitive approach to personal and professional relationships, business management and even governance.

I score very high on a GROP psymetric test (Guide de Recherche d’une Orientation Professionnelle). It is fascinating to realize that there actually exists a test for professional purposes, that measures intuition. Therefore, intuition must be some sort of ‘good’ skill to have, otherwise one would not bother to measure it, right? Intuition applies to professional activities (not just personal lives, in between 4 walls, hidden alone, so that nobody sees you doing it).

The way the decisions have been taken by governments and organisations leaves out the citizens, or leaves out the voices of a community, as you explained so well. To reverse this, what should we do? How do we transform a culture of government, of businesses, to make room for more respect for individual voices, and the collective intelligence?

I have been trying to imagine these past months a model of an ideal Man, that would not live by the dominance standards that we have known for a couple of milleniums. I called it a Luminous Man. My model, it is perceived as too disruptive from the status quo. Maybe I did not use enough negative words?! I stayed on the positive side too much, on the opposite side of the current spectrum, and people perhaps have a hard time understanding this perspective, because they stand on the ‘dark’ side. They swim in the dominating world everyday, and it’s just the way it goes, and should go. I protest! There is another way. And for open goverment, there should be this other way. There are people standing outside the dark room. There are people who understand the mechanisms to avoid dominance. I believe that it is possible to live together in a more balanced world.

Keep talking about this stuff. We need more discussions like this.

unfortunately, there is no chance that a “new man” who will act perfectly in the sense of common well-being emerge: we have to design organizations that can handle the possibility of a wish of dominance in order to protect the weak from dominants’ abuses and to protect the powerful from becoming abusers.

On that topic, I strongly recommend you to read Frederic Lordon, “Capitalisme, désir et servitude. Marx et Spinoza (2010)” (unfortunately not translated in English yet)

This lucidity on the so called ‘human nature’ was the reason why antic Greek democracy were based on very short mandate: the power is truly owned by citizens when their representatives are only executors of the people’s will.

This imply that citizens, in return, would be truly implicate in public affairs and thus responsible. Which is at the moment impossible, due to the state of industrial populism described by Bernard Stiegler in “Telecracy Against Democracy”

(I may write something on that topic soon)

Why should we think that our decadent condition is perrennial?

Houla, this conversation is making my heart go ‘boom’!

Hey, what is this ‘unfortunately’ thing… ??? !!!

The “citizens implicated in governance” that you mentioned, it corresponds to the defition of open government. This Edgeryders experimental project aims for truly engaged citizens in real atempts at collaboration between governments and the citizens. Of course, the day after the lote conference is over, all the problems in Europe won’t be fixed. No problem will have been fixed at all, as a matter of fact. But we will have demonstrated that this type of collaboration is possible, it works, and it’s fun to do.

It could take decades to transform the current model of governance into a decent open government model with enough impact to be visible and considerable effect to improve quality of life of citizens. For the moment, opengov stuff is just a vague concept. A nice dream. Almost nobody can feel its effects. The majority of citizens do not even know that this possibility exists, and if they do, I would put my hands in fire that they are not too impressed by its infancy steps.

I won’t be satistied until I see some real collaboration, co-creation, and co-governance. I won’t be satisfied until the role of governments is modified from production to co-production, until government managers are turned into animators, accompanying citizens and encouraging them to grow and define their own visions of the world, just like the Edgeryders team is doing with this project (it is doing a great job, considering the fact that this has never really been done before).

What happens to the After-Edgeryders could have an impact, and inspire the rest of the world to make the effort to build bridges of collaboration with citizens. So far, it has been a very positive learning experience for everyone, and the conversations are amazing, what is being discussed on this platform goes beyond any of our expectations. There is insight coming from all directions, in many areas, beyond the themes. All of this could serve as foundations for more research, more experimental projects.

Although I personally feel like I am about to collapse, I do feel fragile, I do feel helplessness — and many must feel this way too, many must be assailed by doubts and must be wondering what all of this is about — I do not want to consider for a second that there is no hope, that we won’t be able to make the change happen. There are too many signs around us making us feel that we are witnessing an important shift. There are thousands of people taking the streets everyday. The few hundreds of Edgeryders participants will not change the world: the world is changing by itself around us. We can try to be smart and align on this phenomena. I like to think there are countless variables acting silently at an accelerated rate, that we are not aware of, and that lead us all to better horizons.

What would be needed to make the shift? What are we missing to get there? Can we sink deeper into chaos than now? Can this general malaise be maintained for much longer? Decadent empires came to extinction in the past. Why should we think that our decadent condition is perrennial? I don’t want to accept this! It would be giving up on humanity. So far we have not been too bright at handling multiple global problems. But despite all this, there is simply something in me which refuses to stop believing. It is there, it is stuck there, and it is not going away.

I do totally agree on this feeling of witnessing an important shift and I’m incredibly excited by it.

My “unfortunatly” was just a reminder of our limits, our work frame: we might (and I hope we will) experience great progress in our capacity to live in harmony, but our human condition is made of this appetite to live that can produce both empathy and a will to fully express our singularity, sometime through impulse for domination. A tangible example of this necessarily reminding individualism is the way we want to share online or offline but we want to get recognition for this (ex: the CC-By license). It is impossible to think of opengovernance with no leaders at all, with perfectly egal stakeholders. There will always be difference in our degree of introversion/extraversion, in our social capital. Governance will always have to deal with charisma of some individuals (hopefully more numerous than before) as love stories will remain a matter of seduction: those games of indiviuals in society are part of life and are what make it worth living :slight_smile:

My point was just to remind that we can find better organization, change the way people think the collective life but all this have to be think under the constraint of human socio-psychological constants. I’m want to limit my work to realizable utopias :slight_smile:

What limits?

Your “unfortunatly” is confortable for the majority. This is what we are taught to universally think.

What limits?

It is difficult to imagine something else, when one has never known anything else.

I was just reading Elf Pavlik, who thinks that within a year or two, according to his view, it would be possible to transform society. In a year or two… He is not counting in terms of millennia.

To be honest with you, if I had had this conversation with you five years ago, I would have agreed with you. But I don’t believe anymore in the “constraint of human socio-psychological constants”. Please explain what this means to you.

I just finished watching Surviving Progress, an insightful documentary that make a point regarding this issue: our brains haven’t evolve that much since 50,000 years, we are still those short term, variably rational human beings. It’s a fact that our brains don’t allow us to be perfectly rational (we are no gods) and that we are affected by, sometimes incompressible, biologic or social determinisms and we have to do the best we can with this old hardware.

We have thus to work on the cultural layer, the ‘software’.

I’m an optimist and I would truly love to believe you but such a huge update of our ‘operating system’ from individualism to a civilization of empathy, collaboration and collective intelligence will need more than two small years, even if I want to believe that it has already started since quite a long time now. Hopefully that can go fast with young and connected people (Gen-Y & Z) but how to imply olders in this shift? people who all there life believed that money was the true sign of a successful life? How to help them to overcome their cognitive dissonance?

Our best chance to succeed is to be truly conscious of those constraints.

I would be glad to read what make you change your mind and think that we could see a truly massive mind shift from the whole society in the very next years :slight_smile:

Much could be accomplished if we changed attitudes

I think that Elf Pavlik is on to something, he’s got an intuition… Someone would not live such an extreme experience if it was not built on a solid foundation.

It has only been 3 years since I am aware of the existence of a “huge update of our operating system". This possibility is available to all of us. It is a physical, a biophysical update. The effects are physical: an ongoing process, lasting from several months to many years. It can be accounted by a purely physiological mechanism. When a center, presently dormant in the average man and woman, is activated, a powerful stream of energy rises into the head, enabling (after several years) to transcend normal limits. The cerebrospinal system has to undergo a radical change. The substance which is causing this aesthetic revolution in the brain is beyond our scrutiny, and will remain for a long time to come.

When you succeed in triggering this process, you necessarily start a world with is totally different from our world.” C. C. Jung (1975)  Jung also pointed that at a time of dissociation, such as prevailed during the Roman Empire and which prevails in our era, is simultaneously an age of death (decay) and rebirth: "When one principle reaches the height of its power, the counter principle, stirring within, contains in its darkness the germ of a new light.”

If someone had told me about this a few years ago, I would have burst out laughing. But one day, it hit me, and now I’m stuck with it. It won’t go away. It is non-reversible. Every week, I discover more and more people experiencing the same thing. When the body goes through this “huge update”, it becomes impossible thereafter not to believe in human evolution. It ultimately does what you described: one stops being focused on individualism (ego melts) and develops empathy and collaboration.

I do not know how the “older people” will become involved in this shift. The people with a very strong ego would probably have difficulty experiencing this process. It could be triggered, but they would face extreme pain and very violent physical manifestations over an extended period of time. Considerable segments of the population could be affected, in the next few years. The people in whom it is most easily activated are those with especially sensitive nervous systems. Cases are popping by the hundreds, and these people do not know what is happening to them. They lack the information that could guide them and help them to grow. It took me a more than 6 months to figure out what was happening to me.

Much could be accomplished if we changed attitudes, if we changed our reaction with people experiencing this, and ultimately in society as a whole. This is not just for the person’s benefit, but for all of us to understand a model of what is going on. Certainly we must no longer subject people in the midst of this process, to approaches which are at opposite poles to self-development. These people though confused and disoriented, are undergoing a process far superior to any that we know yet how to administer.

A new clinical state is being defined and documented. It is a dynamic, self-directed process of mental and physical transformation, leading to a healthier and more developed state than what we usually consider normal. It has many characteristic features, which can be objectively demonstrated. A cross-cultural survey will reveal that the process is basically similar across the world, no matter the geographic area or the culture.

Individuals undergoing this transformation usually do not understand what is happening. The early stages are often marked by violent manifestations, disorientation, confusion, a lot of fear. Tragically in many of these cases, clinicians have often mistaken the process. Many of these cases have been sent to situations destructive to their development, resulting in a great loss, not only for themselves, but for society. For these cases represent a considerable creativity potential.

I know it may seem hard to believe… If people like Pavlik exist, we must expect that there are probably very extreme experiences, as extreme as Pavlik, which are currently happening. Not in just an isolated case, but in many cases. This possibility should be considered.

Stereotypes are dominating all of us.

When a discourse is suggesting that somebody is applying a strategy of domination cause is male, or suggesting that somebody is not capable of having intuition or appreciate it cause is male; actually what this discourse is doing is applying with different arguments the same strategy of domination that seeks to abolish. Hey, I protest! This is a dangerous cultural stereotype that also must be banished, because this stereotype is also a tool of domination. It is the stereotype of male as synonymous with aggression, domination and unable of intuition, caring and responsibility. So, if feminism speaks for the other in the female-male relations, I’m becoming masculinist and speaking from my side, because indeed I’m male and I’m feeling touched and ashamed by this kind of stereotypes. The history is full of hard-fought against domination of one sort or another, where certainly female oppression is one of them and is still open. And there is a really long story of million men fighting, losing their privileges and dying in this crusade through all of our history against the domination of all kinds. So, I only must be ashamed of myself if I had an overbearing and arrogant attitude that is not seeing value and equality in the others and discriminating against others because of their differences. But I can not be ashamed because of my gender – and by no other difference - cause in the event that I had to be ashamed of that, I’m certainly being oppressed. Thus, you are female, perfect! I’m male, perfect! Let us join forces together in an abolitionist movement that allows us to free ourselves from the all kind of chains that keep us dominated. Chains that are not only the ruling elites trying to preserve the status quo through a domination game, but ourselves through our conformity, apathy and mental structures full of stereotypes. So, as you rightly say, it does not make any sense trying to implement a sustainable “Mine becomes ours” mindset, if we don’t get rid of the dominating attitudes first.

Are there avenues, possible solutions, that are set aside?

Here, in this mission report, intuition is perceived as ‘wishful thinking’. The reply of the participant was:

'I really thought that he “Edgeryders” community’s intention was to provide new alternatives and disruptive propositions to enhance the actual vision of what Europe and maybe the world could be like in the future.

I work in academia, therefore I can understand the necessity of having valid sources of information. I felt “Edgeryders” could be a place where I can express some ideas which are not restricted to the formalisms and extreme positivism of scientific research… I took this platform as a place where reason, intuition and emotion can also find adopters and where we all could contribute to “the emergence of NEW paradigms”. I’m aware that the world is not a perfect place but I have chosen to remain positive in my life, fight for love, peace, sharing, and spontaneity among others, and try to find solutions with people who ask themselves the same questions I do.’

Of course, intuition is something that everyone can experience. Are we ‘free’ to explore this path? Are there avenues, possible solutions, that are set aside? What puts them aside?

lack of structures

I really liked the article: “A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency” (http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/30/humbug/ ). I wonder why these tech entrepreneurs don’t think about using social ownership as well as social media? Why can’t twitter be a consumer coop, say? Pay a £1-equivalent nominal fee to sign up, or even once a year, and get voting rights over various policies and the election of board members. With integrated youtube videos and algorithms based on retweeting etc, it would be possible to develop radical participatory democracy that could control the organisation and go beyond open source software (that can only be totally open to those who can program - a growing but still small elite)

Sad to hear about couchsurfers - but similarly, perfecly possible to set it up as a co-op. I wonder how warmshowers (similar but for cyclists) is owned? Possibly a route to pursue there.

Twitterlike consumer coop sounds cool

Im wonering why everyone is on twitter then, not on http://identi.ca/ for example which is open source.

Better marketing? Nicer logo? We dont mind being commodified. What about Facebook? What it does is far more serious user-trade.

Anyone left? The majority moans but stays. We don’t leave when we’re sold, but many leave when have to pay.

The problem with Identi.ca, Diaspora and others is that they where kind of opensource copycat: the value added is only the fact that they are Libre-compatible. But no one out of Libre hacktivist will use and promote a service that has only this value-added: Mozilla emerge because it was awesome, not because it is opensource, VLC idem etc.

Network externalities

Well, the value of Facebook to each one of us is that everyone else in on Facebook. Same with any network. Think of the old phone network: if you were the only one to have a phone, it would have zero value, because you would not be able to connect with anybody. If only one other person had one, then the value to you of a phone would be the value of that one connection. If two other people had phones… you get the idea.

So no, I don’t think it’s better marketing or a nicer logo. I think it’s network externalities: in these markets, the winner takes it all, and the winner is often, simply, the one who moves first.

That said, I am keeping a small stake in Diaspora. I think a fair chunk of interesting people might migrate there some time soon. You will find me here:


Do you think its because we got stuck in the ownership dualism?

Why do you think non-profits are turned into b-corps not co-ops? Is it because we love commodifying everything so much before even thinking of monetizing what we commodified.

Understanding the basics of the domination game.

One of the basic problems that are lying behind the situation that had happened in the Couchsurfing community, as is acknowledged by Lyne, is the domination game, which basically is the misuse of power and the poor design of the structures that mediate power. I suppose that in order to solve a problem, we must first clearly understand its main components, and then from that understanding look for possible solutions, or at least palliatives while we are advancing a possible solution. For that reason I would like to discuss the true nature of power and hierarchies, which are just at the root of the domination game. After this analysis we can begin to outline possible solutions from the common base of our understanding. Then I’ll be posting three separate comments, one that will be discussing the true nature of power, another about the true nature of hierarchies, and a third that will be attempting to outline questions that I hope are interesting enough to advance solutions (questions that will be used to guide the ‘Living together’ session).

Post I - The true nature of power

In general we all have a misconception about power. It has been generally defined power as domination, but that is the pathological expression of power when it gets corrupted (through its fetishization). We must concentrate on the positive notion of power (obediential power) and develop the necessary means that are preventing its pathological expression (fetishized power). The following is a summary from the Enrique Dussel 's book “20 politics theses” (in the original Spanish: ‘20 tesis de política’):

What is power?

Humans always harassed in their vulnerability by death and extinction, have an ancestral instinct of wanting to stay in life. This will-for-life is the original tendency of all human beings, and not the will-for-power.

That will-for-live is the power 's content (force) and motivation. The will-for-life is the power 's positive essence, is what can move, pull and push us to act. This will-for-life push us to avoid death, to postpone it, to remain in human life. For this, the human being must take up or devise means of survival in order to satisfy the needs necessaries to remain in human life. Needs that are negativities - hunger is lack of food, thirst is lack of drink, ignorance is lack of cultural knowledge, etc. - and must be denied by satisfiers - food denies hunger -. So, power is the ability of human beings for performing actions or institutional functions from their own will and for their own goals with the aim of organizing and promoting the production, reproduction and enhancing of their lives (and those who are coming after in order to be sustainable).

Political power

Humans are gregarious beings, so they live in groups or communities. Living in a group, the individual wills of its members could disperse with each one pursuing their private, multiple and conflicting interests, and thus the power or force of one’s will is canceling out the other, and it would result in impotence. Conversely, if the individual wills could combine their goals, their purpose and their strategic goals, then its possible reach (adding their forces as a “common will-for-life”) more power.

To avoid impotence and reach the convergence of their individual wills into a common goal is necessary to reach a rational agreement through dialogue and conversation. This convergence of wills by a rational agreement is called political power. To be valid, this convergence must be by agreement of all participants as a free, autonomous and rational agents with equal capacity to intervene in the dialogue. This convergence can not be the result of an act of domination or violence, where the individual wills are forced to deny their own “will-for-life” for the benefit of the “will-for-life” of a particular individual or subgroup; because in this case, the political power is weakened to the point that had only one active and creative will, not the wills 's convergence from the whole group.

But the convergence of wills through a rational agreement is not enough to have political power (or fully describe it). Strategic feasibility is also required, i.e. the group must have the instrumental and strategic mediums available to pursue this common will empirically. As an example, if the group has a hunger crisis, the group must have the mediums (resources, knowledge, etc.) through which to channel their common will to develop the agricultural systems capable of providing the needed food.

It is called potentia - in its double sense of force and being a future possibility - the group inherent capacity to develop political power. This capacity arises from the group as a network where each node is the power of a member of the group fed by her/his will-for-life.

Institutional power

Originally the group is undifferentiated, i.e. its members are undifferentiated among themselves without functional differentiation. A this moment the group has potentia, i.e. it has the capacity to develop political power; but this power does not yet have real existence, it is like the seed, that possessing the potential future tree, is not yet the tree. In order to become real this power – the seed becomes the tree – it should be organized, to take some shape i.e. the political power should be institutionalized. This necessary institutionalization of political power in the group is what is called the potestas. It is at this point of building the necessary institutions for the exercise of political power that the group ceases to be undifferentiated and becomes institutionalized. A group is institutionalized when its members decide to give themselves a heterogeneous organization of its functions to achieve different purposes. It is this functional differentiation among its members which allows them to coordinate complex actions to achieve common goals. At the same time, that functional differentiation is to accept certain restrictions on individual freedom, cause now the group members must move in the framework of the common will voluntarily agreed.

Then potestas is the heterogeneous differentiation of functions through institutions that allow political power becomes real, empirical, practical. The moment when a group institutionalizes – makes real – its political power marks the emergence of the politics. Then politics will be the long adventure of the proper use (or corrupted) of the potestas. Is in this split between potentia and potestas where all political service will be possible, but at the same time will be possible all corruption and oppression source of all injustice and domination.

Power is an ability, you either have or not have, but it is never taken. What it is possible to be taken and dominated are the institutions that involve the mediation of its practice. Power as such it is only belonging to the group and always as a potential. This power becomes real through the institutionalization (potestas), which is mediating the strategic action to achieve common goals. When we are speaking about governance (the practice of the power), it means performing the functions specified by the institutions that make real the political power. Governance is the delegated practice of the political power. The singular practice (private) of an action is when it is on behalf of whom is practicing it. The delegated practice (public) is the action taken on behalf of the group through a differentiated function undertaken with individual attention. The basis of this delegated practice is the power from the group (as a potentia). Those who are practicing the power do it for the group as a mediation for the group.

Obediential power

The group’s power (potentia) is organized in institutions (potestas) where the power is exercised as delegated practice by elected representatives to meet the demands of the full life of the group members (material sphere), fulfilling the requirements of a legitimacy system (formal sphere), to the extent of the strategically feasible. To the representatives is given a certain authority (because the seat of the auctoritas is not the government, but always ultimately the group) to meet more successfully on behalf of the group the functions of his office. Thus, the representatives did not act from themselves as a source of ultimate sovereignty and authority but as delegates. The objectives of the representative must be always act for the group, listening to their demands and complaints. The word ‘obedience’ comes from the Latin words, ‘Ob’ that means having something or someone in front, and ‘Audire’, that means to hear; then ‘obedience’ means ‘To know how to listen to the other’. Then obedience is the basic attitude that must have a representative who fulfills a role in a political institution.

Thus, the obediential power – practice the power listening to whom are being represented- is the truly power practice in a context of justice. And here is completed a brief description of the power in its proper sense, positively, as the force and the agreed wills from the group 's members that is organizing institutions and taking actions through these institutions in order to achieve common goals for the group.

Power corruption

The practice of delegated power can be split positively in the obediential power, and negatively in the fetishized power. Fetishism is the unfortunate reversal where the founded appears as a foundation, and the foundation (the real base) as the founded. The fetishism of power is when the representative believes that he can say that him or the institution where is fulfilling some function, is the foundation, the political power itself. At this moment the representatives are denying the will-for-life of the group members in benefit of their own will-for-life, that is becoming will-for-power.

Once the power is fetishized, inevitably the representative action is a dominant action, not an exercise of the delegated power from the group. So the fetishization of power is a will-for-power as a control (domination) over the group. Then, politics becomes the art of exercising power over opponents who are overpowered to the will of fetishised institutions in favor of some subgroups; and the fetishized power, unable to rest on the strength of the group, should rely on these subgroups that are overpowering the whole group violently.

Some consequences from the fetishized power:

  • The potestas destroys potentia, i.e. divides the group, prevent agreement from the group bottom-up, creates conflicts. "Divide and rule" says the old fetishist adage
  • The fetishized power expects rewards, the corrupted representatives hope to use the fetishized power by the pleasure of exercising their wills, as ostentatious pride, as despotic arrogance, as sadism to theirs enemies, as missappropiation of property and wealth, and also this willingness of domain surreptitiously slips into the erotic domination of their subalterns
  • The bureaucracies from the institutions that are mediating the political power are corrupted, thus appearing the elites as self-referential and not representing anymore the whole group.
  • There may be corruption among subgroups from the whole group, as for example, corporatism is the pursuit of the compliance of private interests through the collaboration with the fetishistic power of those who govern
  • The whole group may be also corrupted when remain silent about obvious facts of corruption and domination

So, as we saw, power is not bad and in fact is the only way that we can achieve common goals. The problem resides in the proper use of the power, and the proper design of the structures that mediate the power to encourage the power proper use.

Can the links be seen and considered in the equation?

Thank you for sharing this information about power. Very relevant and interesting.

In your introduction, you speak about power being a ‘force’. motivation, a positive essence.

What is the nature of this force that enargizes, that gives power to an individual? Is there a source of this power in the human body? Where does this force come from? Is it outside of us? Could it be inside too?

Are there physical states, physical mechanisms in the body, that can lend to self-sufficiency in power / force / energy? Have there been documented cases in the past of self-sufficient in force (resilient) individuals? What are the symptoms of that?

Are we aware of the effects of our behavior on the power / force / energy of others?

Would it be possible to learn to become aware of the effects of our behaviors / words / actions have on the force / energy of others, and on our own biological organism?

Why I ask these questions is because I see a possibility to use this knowledge and apply it to the ‘obediential power’ that you described (‘listening to their demands and complaints’).

We often hear citizens complain that their voices are not being heard. We often see citizens wishing that there would be ‘more listening’. How does one learn to listen, if one has never really listened before? Are there types of personalities having more difficulties to listen than others? What are the real listening capacities of current leaders? What can we do to help leaders and managers to learn how to listen?

My biggest concern right now, is to try to find ways to help the current leaders to learn about listening. I think that this ability goes with other sets of skills, new skills not really been used so far.

Ok, I’m not perfect, and I may not use the perfect words at every moment of my life. I try to demonstrate that in order to gain skills and ability of listening, there are solutions that could be considered. But for various reasons, these are discarded. It would be possible to improve open government initiatives, improve the relationships between governments and citizens, improve on eveyone’s levels of happiness and well-being, if these elements and possible solutions were considered. There are links between these: intuition, force, power, awareness, listening, relationships, well-being, happiness, caring, altruism, collaboration and human evolution.

POST II - The true nature of the hierarchies.

As with power, in general we all have a misconception about hierarchies. This misconception basically maintain that all hierarchies involve a ranking or dominating judgment that oppresses other values and the individuals who hold them (hierarchies are a “hegemonic domination that marginalizes differential values”). But this conception of hierarchy comes from a pathological scheme of hierarchy, one that easily becomes a despotism. We must concentrate on the positive notion of hierarchy as the organizing principle of wholeness and learn how to implement the right schemes of hierarchies that are preventing despotism (domination). The following is a summary from the Ken Wilber 's book “Sex, Ecology, Spirituality":

Holons, normal hierarchies and holarchies

As used in modern psychology, evolutionary theory, and systems theory, a hierarchy is simply a ranking of orders of events according to their holistic capacity. In any developmental sequence, what is whole at one stage becomes a part of a larger whole at the next stage. A letter is part of a whole word, which is part of a whole sentence, which is part of a whole paragraph, and so on.

Arthur Koestler coined the term holon to refer to that which, being a whole in one context, is simultaneously a part in another. With reference to the phrase “the bark of a dog,” for example, the word “bark” is a whole with reference to its individual letters, but a part with reference to the phrase itself. And the whole (or the context) can determine the meaning and function of a part – the meaning of bark is different in the phrases “the bark of a dog” and “the bark of a tree.” The whole, in other words, is more than the sum of its parts, and that whole can influence and determine, in many cases, the function of its parts (and that whole itself is, of course, simultaneously a part of some other whole; I will return to this in a moment). Normal hierarchy, then, is simply an order of increasing holons, representing an increase in wholeness and integrative capacity – atoms to molecules to cells, for example. And these orders could be seen as ranked because each successive order is more inclusive and more encompassing and in that sense “higher”.

It is for all these reasons that Koestler, after noting that all hierarchies are composed of holons, or increasing orders of wholeness, pointed out that the correct word for “hierarchy” is actually holarchy.

Wholeness and connectedness

To be a part of a larger whole means that the whole supplies a principle (or some sort of glue) not found in the isolated parts alone, and this principle allows the parts to join, to link together, to have something in common, to be connected, in ways that they simply could not be on their own. And hierarchy is the basic organizing principle of wholeness. You cannot have wholeness without hierarchy because unless you organize the parts into a larger whole whose glue is a principle higher or deeper than the parts possess alone – unless you do that, then you have heaps, not wholes. You have strands, but never a web. Even if the whole is a mutual interaction of parts, the wholeness cannot be on the same level as the partness or it would itself be merely another part, not a whole capable of embracing and integrating each and every part. Hierarchy, then, converts heaps into wholes, disjointed fragments into networks of mutual interaction. When it is said that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” the “greater” means “hierarchy.” It doesn’t mean fascist domination; it means a higher (or deeper) commonality that joins isolated strands into an actual web, that joins molecules into a cell, or cells into an organism.

Asymmetry in hierarchies

Hierarchy is asymmetrical because the process of increasing wholeness does not occur in the reverse. Acorns grow into oaks, but not vice versa. There are first letters, then words, then sentences, then paragraphs, but not vice versa. Atoms join into molecules, but not vice versa. And that “not vice versa” constitutes an unavoidable hierarchy or ranking or asymmetrical order of increasing wholeness. All developmental and evolutionary sequences that we are aware of proceed by hierarchization, or by orders of increasing holism – molecules to cells to organs to organ systems to organisms to societies of organisms, for example. In cognitive development, we find awareness expanding from simple images, which represent only one thing or event, to symbols and concepts which represent whole groups or classes of things and events, to rules which organize and integrate numerous classes and groups into entire networks. In moral development we find a reasoning that moves from the isolated subject to a group or tribe of related subjects, to an entire network of groups beyond any isolated element. And so on. This growth in wholeness occurs in stages, and stages, of course, are ranked in both a logical and chronological order. The more holistic patterns appear later in development because they have to await the emergence of the parts that they will then integrate or unify, just as whole sentences emerge only after whole words.

In any developmental or growth sequence, as a more encompassing stage or holon emerges, it includes the capacities and patterns and functions of the previous stage (i.e., of the previous holons), and then adds its own unique (and more encompassing) capacities. In that sense, and that sense only, can the new and more encompassing holon be said to be “higher” or “deeper.” Organisms include cells, which include molecules, which include atoms (but not vice versa). Thus, whatever the important value of the previous stage, the new stage has that enfolded in its own makeup, plus something extra (more integrative capacity, for example), and that “something extra” means “extra value” relative to the previous (and less encompassing) stage. And this extra value always means more holistic, or capable of a wider response.

Hierarchy, control and heterarchy

Some hierarchies do involve a type of control network. As Roger Sperry points out, the lower levels (which means, less holistic levels) can influence the upper (or more holistic) levels, through what he calls “upward causation.” But just as important, he reminds us, the higher levels can exert a powerful influence or control on the lower levels – so-called “downward causation.” For example, when you decide to move your arm, all the atoms and molecules and cells in your arm move with it – an instance of downward causation.

Now, within a given level of any hierarchical pattern, the elements of that level operate by heterarchy. That is, no one element seems to be especially more important or more dominant, and each contributes more or less equally to the health of the whole level. But a higher-order whole, of which this lower-order whole is a part, can exert an overriding influence on each of its components. Again, when you decide to move your arm, your mind – a higher-order holistic organization – exerts influence over all the cells in your arm, which are lower-order wholes, but not vice versa: a cell in your arm cannot decide to move the whole arm – the tail does not wag the dog.

And here is completed a brief description of the hierarchy in its proper sense, positively, as a holarchy that allows the sequential or stagelike unfolding of larger networks of increasing wholeness, with the larger or wider wholes being able to exert influence over the lower-order wholes, i.e. to grow in levels of higher complexity that that allow behaviors and functions that are not possible in the previous level of growing. A holarchy where within each level, heterarchy; between each level, hierarchy; and where both both are complementary and essential to each other for a healthy system.

Pathological hierarchies and heterarchies

In a hierarchy a higher-order whole is able to exert influence over the lower-order wholes. And as natural, desirable, and unavoidable as that is, it is possible to see how holarchies can go pathological. If the higher levels can exert influence over the lower levels, they can also overdominate or even repress and alienate the lower levels. And that leads to a host of pathological difficulties, in both the individual and society at large. So, in a pathological hierarchy, one holon assumes agentic dominance to the detriment of all. This holon doesn’t assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is the whole, period.

It is precisely because the world is arranged holarchically, precisely because it contains fields within fields within fields, that things can go so profoundly wrong, that a disruption or pathology in one field can reverberate throughout an entire system. And the cure for this pathology, in all systems, is essentially the same: rooting out the pathological holons so that the holarchy itself can return to harmony. The cure does not consist in getting rid of holarchy per se, since, even if that were possible, it would simply result in a uniform, one-dimensional flatland of no value distinctions at all. Rather, the cure of any diseased system consists in rooting out any holons that have usurped their position in the overall system by abusing their power of upward or downward causation. This is exactly the cure we see at work in psychoanalysis (shadow holons refuse integration), critical social theory (ideological holons distort open communication), democratic revolutions (monarchical or fascist holons oppress the body politic), medical science interventions (cancerous holons invade a benign system), radical feminist critiques (patriarchal holons dominate the public sphere), and so on. It is not getting rid of holarchy per se, but arresting (and integrating) the arrogant holons. Thus, a normal hierarchy, or the holism between levels, goes pathological when there is a breakdown between levels and a particular holon assumes a repressive, oppressive, arrogant role of dominance over other holons (whether in individual or social development).

But not only are there pathological or dominator hierarchies, there are pathological or dominator heterarchies. In a normal heterarchy, which is holism within any level, goes pathological when there is a blurring or fusion of that level with its environment: a particular holon doesn’t stand out too much, it blends in too much; it doesn’t arrogate itself above others, it loses itself in others – and all distinctions, of value or identity, are lost (the individual holon finds its value and identity only through others). In pathological heterarchy, individual holons lose their distinctive value and identity in a communal fusion and meltdown. This holon doesn’t assume it is both a whole and a part, it assumes it is a part, period. Thus, pathological heterarchy means not union but fusion; not integration but indissociation; not relating but dissolving. All values become equalized and homogenized in a flatland devoid of individual values or identities; nothing can be said to be deeper or higher or better in any meaningful sense; all values vanish into a herd mentality of the bland leading the bland.

Whereas pathological hierarchy is a type of ontological fascism (with the one dominating the many), pathological heterarchy is a type of ontological totalitarianism (with the many dominating the one).

So, as we saw, hierarchies are not bad and in fact is the only way we are able to organize things and ourselves to achieve complex behaviors and functions. The problem resides in the proper balance between hierarchies and heterarchies, and the proper design of the schemes of hierarchies that avoid dominant holons.

The Game of Man and natural ‘arrogant holons’ cleaner process

Glad that someone is talking about ‘wholeness and connectiveness’ and ‘higher (or deeper) commonality’… I keep talking about the synonyms ‘oneness and consciousness’, and these concepts were not the most popular so far.

There are perhaps various levels in ‘arrogant holons’?

Some may need to be ‘arrested’, while others might be able to adapt to different behaviors, if they received some guidance and support? There were many discussions (in French) on this platform with philosopher Michel Filippi about ‘verrouillage’, or locking behavior.

Michel Filippi suggested, as a solution, the Game of Man, where various models of possible human beings could coexist (with their own sets of qualities, values and corresponding business model). Each individual could pic the model that best suits his/her aspirations. This ‘Game’ allows to consider various windows of possibilities for Mankind, and imagine the effects on the human body, on communities and evolution in general.

Filippi sees, through diversity, a possibility for middle term change of culture in governments, organizations and businesses. I played the Game myself, and would like to play more. (It’s fun!)

For the ‘arrogant holons’ in the body, there exists a purifying process. Once activated, it is self-directing and it circulates through the body until the smallest particle had been cleaned. It is the ‘wholeness’ force that leads this process.

I thought that since an ‘arrogant holons’ cleaner natural process exists in the human body, we could learn more about this process, try to understand it, and see if there could be applications on a larger scale, the scale of a community, the scale of a society.